Taking care of our urban forest is a complicated task. While tree care companies like Texas Tree Surgeons and individual homeowners are responsible for caring for most trees, communities and municipalities play an essential role in establishing the guidelines that ensure all urban trees have a chance to thrive. One member of a municipal tree care team is the city arborist. In Dallas, the city arborists are tasked with enforcing the city’s tree protection ordinances and investigating any violations. Additionally, the city arborists consult with residents, architects, and builders on the best ways of preserving existing trees, public and private, during construction. Jessie Farris, one of the District Arborists in Dallas, was kind enough to answer a few questions that homeowners often have.
What is the city of Dallas doing to protect our trees?
The [Dallas Development Code] Article X Landscaping and Tree Preservation Regulations were amended in June 2018, as the Article X Landscape and Urban Forest Conservation Regulations. These regulations further protect and conserve our trees from illegal or unjustified removals. The City is currently working to increase and enhance our canopy cover through the creations of an Urban Master Plan and a Comprehensive Environmental & Climate Action Plan. Additionally, the District Arborists work hard to investigate illegal tree removals and educate the community on responsible tree stewardship.
Do I need a permit to remove a tree at my house?
You do not need a permit to remove trees from single family/duplex uses on properties under 2 acres.
What about my commercial property?
Protected tree removals off of commercial properties require either a Tree Removal Permit or Building Permit and are subject to mitigation [replacement or fees].
What about trees between the sidewalk and street?
Trees in the parkway are on city property and may not be removed without approval by the city arborist. The adjacent property owner is responsible for the maintenance and care of all trees and other vegetation on their premises (including the parkway and to the center of the alley). Trees must maintain a minimum 8-feet clearance over sidewalks, and a minimum of 15-feet over streets and alleys. Trees and vegetation should keep clear of visibility triangles (2.5 feet to 8’ minimum above the curb) at street and alley corners and driveways.
Does a demolition permit allow me to remove trees?
No. Protected tree removal is allowed only with a tree removal permit or as indicated and approved by the city arborist on a building permit.
Who do I call if I see someone removing a tree and I don’t think they should?
Contact 311 or Contact your District Arborist.
Can I stop my neighbor from taking down their tree?
Trees can be removed by the homeowner from single family/duplex uses on properties under 2 acres. If the tree is considered a “boundary” or “shared tree” it should only be removed after consultation with the neighboring owner. In some cases, you may wish to speak with your insurance company, personal legal counsel, or an independent certified arborist before taking action. The City of Dallas does not enforce on civil cases between separate property owners.
What do I do if a tree falls in the street?
What should I do if I think a city tree is a hazard?
Who can I contact for tree issues in creeks and streams?
Jessie Farris developed a passion for conservation and native plants at Texas Christian University before graduating with her Bachelors in 2017. She worked as the Supervisor of Horticulture at the Shangri La Botanical Research and Nature Center before joining the City of Dallas as the Northwest District Arborist in August of 2018. When she’s not in the field or meeting with clients, Jessie’s focus is on community outreach and developing training materials for the City. As the Education & Training Coordinator for the Arborist Department, Jessie creates educational resources for the Dallas community focusing on landscape sustainability. She also serves as the Secretary for the Trinity Blacklands Urban Forestry Council and will graduate with her Masters in Sustainable Natural Resource Management in May.
At Texas Tree Surgeons, we love trees and we love our customers, and we hope those of you in Dallas have found the above information helpful! We always want to do what we can to keep our communities informed and involved. For more Dallas-specific resources, consult the Landscape and Tree Manual. We hope to add information about other North Texas tree regulations soon. In the meantime, if you have any questions about who to contact to find out what the rules in your area are, let us know!